Perhaps best known for our per-capita leadership of world-famous and award-winning breweries, Portland is certainly no stranger to celebrating friends, success or a great meal with a pint of beer. Throughout April, designated Alcohol Awareness Month, doctors and nurses at The Portland Clinic encourage our neighbors to consume alcohol responsibly, and learn how to heal or recognize if you or a loved one has an addiction to alcoholic beverages.
The Alcohol Rehab Guide classifies alcoholism as the most severe form of alcohol abuse, and involves the inability to manage drinking habits. Each category of this ailment, mild moderate and severe, has various symptoms and can cause harmful side effects. If left untreated, any type of alcohol abuse can spiral out of control and lead to health problems and even death of the abuser and those around him or her.
Moderation is the key to enjoying the fermented beverages available at your favorite restaurant, dive bar, sports stadium or grocery store. Consuming as much as four (for women) or five (for men) drinks in two hours is considered binge drinking and can be just as harmful to your health as heavy daily drinking. In addition to all the risks of heavy drinking, binge drinking also commonly leads to poor decision-making, injuries, alcohol poisoning and impaired driving. Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive while impaired.
Risks associated with alcoholism are well known – liver disease, car accidents, impaired judgement, etc. Unfortunately, many are unaware that heavy drinking may also contribute to:
- High blood pressure
- Heart arrhythmias
- Increased risk of developing diabetes
- Higher cancer risks, including cancers of the breast, pancreas, liver, lungs, mouth, throat and gastrointestinal system, among others
- Mental health problems
- Weakened immune system
There have been studies that show moderate drinkers have lower mortality rates than both nondrinkers and heavy drinkers, but there is still significant research that must be completed before the results are completely accepted in the community. Please note, the biggest benefit of moderate drinking seems to be in men and women who average one drink daily. One drink a day is not an average. Saving your seven drinks for a weekend binge can put your health in danger. We cannot stress moderation enough.
This April, join doctors and nurses, our staff and physicians around the nation in supporting those who may be dealing with an addiction to alcohol. Understanding the effects and consequences of alcohol use and abuse is an important step in ensuring you live a safe and healthy lifestyle. Encourage friends and family members to make small changes at first, including keeping track of their consumption or setting a limit of drinks per day/week, to help fight the addiction, while also making appointments with medical care providers to keep them on track.
You can join in on the conversation on twitter, by following the hashtag, #alcoholawareness.
If you struggle with alcoholism or know someone who does, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a free, confidential, 24/7 national hotline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
The Portland Clinic has multiple resources for our neighbors of all ages, to share more information on alcohol abuse and assist any Portland resident who may be dealing with addiction.